Tag Archive | change

Exercise everyday with these easy hacks

I previously wrote about the most important new year’s resolution that we most often take for granted, our health. My attention was brought to this realization one day by a sickness which sabotaged all my activities laid for the several days that ensued. Then and there, I made the commitment to prioritise my health.

What seemed like an easy goal though is – in reality – an overwhelming task. I found it challenging to identify time to exercise. Whenever I’m immersed in a certain work, it was all too easy to make excuses not to exercise. In addition, I haven’t been fully well since the day I vowed to make health a priority. I have been nursing a cough which never went away, probably because I was reluctant to take medicines. I took vitamin C, ensured I am well hydrated, took ginger and lemon tea, and ate more fruits and vegetables so I’m gradually feeling better but still not fully recovered. My illness made my body feel heavier; so I got lazier.

Inclined to overcome my repugnance with exercise, I ascertained what made it feel overwhelming. I realised it was because I had this notion of an ‘ideal workout’. I think about long yoga sessions, kilometers stretch of jogging route, a treadmill and the likes. This tendency to set an unnecessary high standard holds true with other plans. Setting a high standard is not wrong, in fact we should aspire to achieve this in everything we do because the world deserves our best. What makes it wrong is when it hampers our growth; when it becomes a cause of our paralysis.

Some things take time to develop. Excellence is not achieved in one attempt but rather after a long process of trial and error. It’s the same with exercise or of being healthy in general; small everyday efforts can lead to notable results. Instead of aiming to do my ‘ideal workout’, I began to think about small ways that I can exercise. These ways aren’t like those exercise hacks suggested online which still involve ambitious, abrupt change of attitude that can get overwhelming and paralysing. Mindfulness helped me identify these pockets of opportunity which include the following:

* Walking instead of driving or taking a cab
* Doing some yoga poses while watching television
* Doing some lying yoga poses during days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed
* Doing some dance moves or belly dancing while cooking!
* Doing some stretching anytime, anywhere during the day
* When stuck in traffic, doing some breathing exercises or stretching poses such as eagle arm, ear to shoulder/neck rolls and shoulder rolls

These are just some ideas but when we continue to go on our day mindfully, I’m sure we will find more ways to move our bodies. Doing these simple steps will eventually lead to a positive change to our health. When we feel healthier and more energised, doing the ‘ideal workout’ will no longer feel overwhelming but a source of joy.


Reviewing my week changes my perspective of tomorrow

Working in a non-profit organization for over five years taught me the importance of setting concrete goals and establishing a monitoring and evaluation system to help us keep track of our progress and steer us back to the right track should we veer, among other things.

In one of the workshops I’ve attended, I learned about the Theory of Change and the process of identifying a specific goal, how to break it into long term and short term plans, and how to create a timeline on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis to ensure that what we do every day will contribute to the realization of our ultimate goal. I thought then that such process can also be applied to our personal goals. But since I decided to not think about ‘big plans’ yet at the moment because I still don’t know what it is I really want, I will instead focus my energy into making sure I spend each day doing the things I am passionate about and hopefully in the process I will be able to figure out what ‘big project’ I want to pursue.

The ‘big project’ I was referring to is something in addition to becoming a lawyer. Becoming a good lawyer requires one to study diligently so I make sure that each day I also allocate some time reading law books and cases aside from doing my other passions.

Now, here’s the thing. Some people don’t even know what they are passionate about. I am the opposite. I enjoy taking pictures, writing/blogging, reading, knitting, cooking, baking, meditation, yoga, video editing – a lot! That’s why it can also get frustrating trying to identify which one I should focus on. So instead of asking myself what is it really, I will just attempt to do them and see where the process will lead me. Thus, being mindful of how I spend my day is the first step at ensuring that this year will not be another wasted year spent mindlessly.

So how do I know I am on track? On January 1, I began to journal my daily activities, learning and realisations. Sometimes I would write whenever I feel the urge particularly when something came up that I didn’t want to forget but most of the time I would write before going to sleep. The first time I did it on new year’s night, I was appalled to see how little I accomplished that day. The nights that followed were filled with the same dismay at how I was not able to maximize my time. I was particularly disappointed when most of my day was spent on delays – when I had to go through a delayed boat departure, delayed van departure, or long queue at a mall counter.

What are you tracking if you don’t have a specific goal?

It’s not that I totally don’t have a goal. I don’t have specific goals such as opening a business venture, publishing a book, winning a Pulitzer award or what have you, but I do have a goal and that is to mindfully spend my day doing the things I am passionate about. My daily journal keeps track of this. Am I doing the things I am passionate about? Or did I spend the day slacking?

I then came up with an idea of having a weekly review of my activities. This is what I meant when I said in my previous post that it’s not necessary to make grand plans for the year because identifying one’s goal is a process and being mindful of how I spend my day is the beginning of the process. True enough, when I began to be mindful of my day, I came up with ideas I would not have thought about before and one of them is to do a weekly review of my activities. The weekly review is designed to help me celebrate my little victories, identify my weaknesses and assess areas for improvement.

My first week of January 2018

I am happy to report that I successfully avoided soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. I plan to continue not drinking them for the whole year. What happens next year is yet to be determined. Vowing never to drink them until the end of time is such a huge goal which will only make me too overwhelmed and overwhelm leads to failure. The key is to make short-term achievable goals first then cross the bridge when I get there.

I was also able to read 40 pages of civil cases on New Year’s day! This was such an accomplishment given my tendencies to avoid work or school work during a day of celebration. And because I was able to do that on a special day, I was able to encourage myself to spend time reading law books every day no matter the duration.

Unfortunately, aside from those two key wins, my week was uneventful. There are definitely more areas to improve. I did yoga just once – for only 30 minutes – though this was also because I was feeling sickly for three days. I felt nauseous then better the following day then suddenly hit by a cough the day after. In fact I was supposed to do my weekly review yesterday but my body felt extremely heavy I ended up sleeping most of the time. I wrote just one article. Did two sessions of 10-minute meditation which was a total shame! And I didn’t finish reading a single novel; I’m not even halfway done!

Overall, my week wasn’t fully maximized. My study time fell too short even though I knew I could have spent more time on it. The same with meditation where a 30-minute session in the morning and before sleep would have been totally achievable but I just didn’t do it. The yoga failure I can forgive because I was really feeling awful though I have to give myself some credit for being mindful of what I eat and drink.

Hopefully this week I will be physically healed and will be able to spend my days better than last week. One thing is for sure, this weekly review is very effective at drawing my attention to how lazy I was, how I’m not able to fully appreciate the time I was gifted to spend; it is a good motivation to keep going and to keep changing for the better. I knew I’ve been good at wasting my time in the past but reviewing my week like this gave a whole new perspective. There’s something about it that gives me that needed boost to actually, really change.


New life down under

It was only when I was already on the plane to Sydney that it started to sink in that I am moving here. Having gone through many ups and downs, I did not expect much of what my life will be like here.

Dawn above the sky

Sydney Australia

I left home on Friday at 6:30 and arrived in my new home in Sydney Saturday at 13:15. It was a tiresome trip from 30 degrees to 15 degrees. My body felt frozen but I still managed to grab groceries. I was ecstatic to find out that my area has a lot of Thai restaurants – I’ve passed by at least 6 of them – as well as Thai massage. The area is actually very Asian as most restaurants are either Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese. But because I just came from Bangkok and my roommate Lavina from Taipei, we opted for Japanese food. I fell asleep at 20:30 still holding my phone.

I woke up Sunday feeling energised. Since Lavina has only a week in Sydney before moving to Macquarie University, we decided to be tourists for a day. We were lucky the weather was pleasant, sunny and not too cold. And on top of that, my place is close to the Sydney Harbour, just 10 minutes through a free bus! How cool is that?!

Sydney Harbour

Our first stop was at The Rocks along Sydney Harbour. It is known as the land of the Gadigal people and the first place of European settlement in Australia. During weekends there are stalls all over the streets selling various products so it is fun to walk around. There were also musicians playing soothing songs and instrumental. From there you can get a good view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Opera House

Mugs at The Rocks Sydney

Wall decor at The Rocks Sydney

The Rocks Sydney

Watch necklace at The Rocks Sydney

We had lunch at Phillip’s Foote, a hidden gem within busy The Rocks established in 1975. The restaurant is a bit hidden behind a pub, we would not have found it had Lavina not seen the ad on steak at $40 for two to commemorate their 40 years anniversary. We loved discovering this restaurant. With trees and plants around, you can’t ask for a better ambiance after a long day of walking. And their steak was just delicious. You have to grill it yourself which was an added fun.

Photo from Phillips Foote Facebook Page

Photo from Phillips Foote Facebook Page

My massive lunch!

My massive lunch!

After lunch we went to the Opera House and walked to the Royal Botanic Garden. This park is huge; a perfect place to chill out when readings and essays will begin to drown me. Across the park is the State Library of NSW. When I saw the library, my heart skipped a beat. I can’t believe I live close to everything that nurtures my soul!

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

State Library of the New South Wales

From SLNSW we walked to St. Mary’s Cathedral the prettiest church I’ve been to next to Westminster Abbey in London. It was amusing though because just outside the cathedral there was an ice skating rink which I bet was only for the weekend.

Inside St Mary's Cathedral Sydney

Across St. Mary’s Cathedral is Hyde Park, another good place to relax. From there we walked back, dropped by the dirty market to grab fruits and headed home.

I had a dynamic life in Bangkok but moving to Sydney was a huge change, I still can’t help but feel uneasy. All I did in the plane when fear started to creep in was meditate. I told myself to live in the moment and deal with whatever challenges that will come with calmness and kindness. I let my expectations low so that I will be less disappointed. And as it turned out, the universe seemed to be conspiring to grant more than what I could hope for a home away from home including housemates that I am now so fond of. I can only wish Lavina will stay longer coz other than she is the sweetest, she also brings the vibe of positive change, new beginnings and adventures. But short was our time together I am grateful we found each other; two kick-ass women plunging into an ocean of risks and possibilities.

Sydney harbour with the Opera House